Announcement On Economic Downturn

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The Cotswold Blog is a collection of diary entries, news, gossip and other Cotswold related information.

Announcement On Economic Downturn

The following announcement on the effects of the current global financial situation on Cotswold District Council was made by the Leader, Cllr Lynden Stowe, at a meeting of full Council on November 25th:

As all of you will know, we are in the grip of a global economic downturn which shows every sign of getting worse and yesterday’s Budget announcement has done nothing to help the people of the Cotswolds or this Council.

Almost everyone in the District is feeling the effects of the credit crunch – prices have risen, businesses are under threat and home repossessions have soared.

Local authorities are no exception in these very difficult times and Cotswold District Council is facing some tough financial challenges, particularly as we look towards next year’s budget and our five-year Medium Term Financial Plan.

More than 40 per cent of this Council’s income comes from the fees and charges we make for our services.

Unfortunately, these income streams are already falling and are likely to fall further in 2009/10.

The slump in the property market has inevitably hit fees for planning and building control applications and land charges, while the fall in consumer spending is expected to affect parking, leisure and tourism. We will need to manage our staff resources very carefully in these income generating areas over the next few months.

Anyone with a mortgage will know that interest rates are coming down – but this has an adverse impact on Councils like us with significant sums invested. We are expecting to see interest on our investments drop sharply next year, even before the impact on our investment in Glitnir is taken into account.

At the same time, our costs have increased across the board – particularly for transport fuels, electricity and gas.

We know too that the new waste and recycling service will cost more than we anticipated after achieving a quite remarkable combined recycling and composting rate of more than 70%.

This performance puts us on course to be not only the leading recycling authority in the UK but one of the very best in Europe.

Thanks to the overwhelming support for the scheme from our residents, we have slashed the amount of waste originating in this District to be buried in the ground by more than 50%. In the years to come, this will save Gloucestershire council tax payers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds in landfill taxes.

But success on this scale comes at a price and with 18,000 extra recycling boxes requested and extra vehicles and crew required to cope with demand, we have inevitably seen costs increase.

The support from residents has been fantastic and we don’t want them to stop recycling.

What we are doing is working with our contractor and partners to bring down future costs, ensuring the rounds are as efficient as possible and reviewing the way in which recyclables are collected in view of the worldwide downturn in demand for some materials.

We are in talks with the County Council about sharing landfill tax savings to offset some of our costs and we are talking to Defra and other Government agencies to see what support may be available. Nobody wants to see the success of our new service falter.

The credit crunch means that we are having to redouble our efforts to become more efficient and Cabinet is working closely with Corporate Team and Service Managers to see where further savings can be made, as they must be made.

One specific measure we have decided to offer to help both tax payers and business rate payers over this difficult Winter period is to allow people to pay their council tax or business rates for this financial year 2008/09 in 12 instalments instead of ten, thus spreading the cost. This can be arranged on request.

Our priority remains to deliver value for money services to the people of the Cotswolds and I am confident that despite the challenges ahead we will be able to do this and keep our council tax increase lower than the rise in state pensions. To do that, we will inevitably have to make use of our revenue reserves over the next couple of years.

Cllr Lynden Stowe
Leader
Cotswold District Council

Posted : 28/11/2008 16:14:08

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